Frog Time! A Dakmor-less, evilfair build of Gitrog EDH.
PLEASE NOTE: This article is unfinished, and has only been published in order to share in this very preliminary, draft form. Thanks, /u/GaiaPaladin
When Shadows of Innistrad was released in April 2016, The Gitrog Monster caused loinquakes amongst even the bluest of EDH mages. Not only did Magic now have it’s very first Legendary Frog, it just so happened to be a 6/6 Deathtouch for five mana with a host of amazingly synergistic BG abilities. The hypno-toad called, and of course I answered…
I began building with the Frog Horror in my typical style, flipping through my binders and sleeving a plucky, rag-tag collection of vaguely awesome cards that did dirty things with lands. One year later, some cards still remain. Others have been resigned to the “It’s not you, it’s me” pile. (Pro-tip: it was actually them.) The result however, is what I believe to be a deck that can play strong but fair, and then win out of nowhere without leaning on the Dakmor Salvage combo which takes thirteen years to play out. It is resilient, wonderfully complicated, and incredibly satisfying to pilot. I give you, Frog Time.
Pre-game: As you’re shuffling up, talking shit with your opponents, you should draw attention to your Commander and casually state “Oh, this? Don’t worry, I don’t even run the Dakmor-Skirge combo. Everyone hates that.” Then wink at someone like they’re in on the plan. Remember, mind games are a valid and only mildly creepy tactic in EDH.
Early turns: Early in the game, your main goal is to establish a comprehensive, yet non-threatening board state. Mana dorks are great, and Guul Draz Assassin is a solid early mana sink that can keep low-CMC Commanders at bay. Don’t play out Olivia’s Dragoon, Noose Constrictor or Sylvan Safekeeper just yet though — you’re going to need these later and you don’t want to risk running them into a board wipe.
Ideally you’re trying to ramp into lands as quickly as possible at this point. Gitrog forces you to sacrifice a land during your upkeep, so you don’t actually want to cast him before you have five lands around, as much of your power relies on having a reasonable amount of land to work with when performing shenanigans.
If you have fetches in hand, try to avoid cracking them until you have Gitrog in play. Every fetch you crack at that point becomes a free draw, and it’s always a shame to lose them. Remember, if you have Urborg in play, you can tap your fetches for black mana, so it makes for a nice early land drop.
Frog in play: Once Gitrog is on the battlefield, you have two choices:
Option 1: Play a fair game, using the natural draw power of Gitrog to play a constant stream of threats and policing the board with removal.
Option 2: Look for the first available opportunity to win in spectacular, trigger-intense style, because that’s why you’re here. This often happens one turn after trying Option 1.
Going off in style
The basic premise to winning with Frog Time is to cast Splendid Reclamation over and over again, resulting in trigger-hell and a board state so disgusting that you either impress the shit out of your opponents or cause them to concede in thinly-veiled disgust.
You can absolutely begin this process with minimal pieces on board. You need to have at least the following on the battlefield, and either Splendid Reclamation or a tutor in hand. (Or take a leap of faith and hope to draw into either.)
- The Gitrog Monster
- Squandered Resources
- Five lands that produce coloured mana
However to be safe, having any of the following in play helps immensely:
- Holistic Wisdom
- Cadaverous Bloom
- Lotus Cobra
- Sylvan Safekeeper
The best time to do this is when any player who could likely disrupt you by either countering Splendid Reclamation is tapped out, or you have Boseiju available for protection. Begin your turn as follows:
1: Tap all your lands for mana. Use an app or other method to keep track of your mana pool. You’re gonna need it. Don’t use any of your available land drops yet.
2: Start sacrificing your lands to Squandered Resources, one at a time. Every land you sacrifice gives you a draw, and adds to your mana pool. If you need to tutor for Splendid Reclamation (or another card) using Vampiric Tutor, Liliana Vess, or any other method which would leave the card on top of your library, you need to save a land to sac to draw it.
3: If at any point you draw any of the following cards, you should cast them, while being very sure to leave four mana available for Splendid Reclamation. These are your actual win conditions.
- Altar of the Brood (Mill everyone out)
- Ob Nixilis, the Fallen (Drain everyone out)
- Rampaging Baloths (Beasts everywhere)
- Titania, Protector of Argoth (Elementals everywhere)
- Avenger of Zendikar (Plants everywhere)
If you haven’t drawn into any of these cards yet — don’t worry! All you need to do is fill your mana pool, sacrifice all your lands, and resolve Splendid Reclamation. Resolving this is paramount. If you get to this point and have Splendid Rec. countered or exiled, you’re in very deep shit. Having Crucible of Worlds can help pull you out of the shit, but it’s going to be a long, smelly crawl back to reality.
Once you’ve cast and resolved Splendid Reclamation, you can start sacrificing your lands for mana again, and draw more cards. If any of your win conditions were on the battlefield as it resolved, you’ll either have the beginning of a fun army, or everyone will have less life or fewer cards in their library.
As soon as you can cast a Noose Constrictor or Olivia’s Dragoon, you can accelerate the process in a major way. You’ll almost certainly have a ton of additional lands in hand, and they can be discarded to draw new cards. Just keep discarding lands, drawing cards, and repeating, over and over again, until you’re ready to recur your Splendid Reclamation and repeat the process.
Recurring Splendid Reclamation for fun and profit
There are a handful of options in the deck to get Splendid Rec. back from the graveyard to keep casting it. The very best option is Holistic Wisdom, which gives you almost infinite recursion by exiling any number of sorceries from your hand and paying two generic mana.
Noxious Revival can get it back for zero mana, just remember to have a way to draw the top card of your deck. Regrowth and Eternal Witness can get it back straight to your hand. Typically though, you should only need to cast it a couple of times, because you should have been able to ditch lands to the LoopSnek or Dragoon. If you’re getting twenty lands back on your second cast (which is super conservative), here’s what happens with your win conditions on the battlefield.
Altar of the Brood: Everyone mills twenty. Got Tireless Tracker on board? Make that forty. Got Baloths on board too? SIXTY.
Ob Nixilis, the Fallen: You can deal sixty damage to your opponents in pretty much any way you choose.
Rampaging Baloths: Sure, twenty 4/4 Beasts sounds like a solid option.
Avenger of Zendikar: Any plants you had on the battlefield just got twenty +1/+1 counters on them.
Titania, Protector of Argoth: Well… ok, so technically nothing happens here after you cast Splendid Reclamation. But you’re probably going to sacrifice all twenty of those lands immediately, resulting in twenty 5/3 Elementals.
By your third recurrence and cast of Splendid Reclamation, there is a very good chance that almost every land in your deck will be in your graveyard. If you haven’t milled or drained everyone to death, you simply cast Concordant Crossroads, giving your obscenely large army haste, and swing appropriately for the win.
How to fuck it all up and embarrass yourself
Frog Time has a threshold of sorts, which, once reached gives you a level of inevitability. Over a year of playing this deck, I’ve come to recognise that threshold, and I know when winning is almost certain, and when it’s a total crapshoot that can punt you right out of the game.
Occasionally I’ve had to start the Gitrog / Squandered Resources process very early, as another player was threatening the win next turn. Sometimes it results in you sacrificing all your land, and not drawing Splendid Rec, tutors or any other worthwhile cards, effectively screwing yourself out of the game.
To avoid the shame of failure, try not to do the following things.
- Tutor a card you need right now to the top of your library, but not have a way to draw it. Always save a land drop or sacrifice trigger for those last ditch tutors.
- Forget to save green mana to cast Splendid Reclamation.
- Sacrifice so many lands that you draw yourself out with Gitrog triggers, losing the game.
- Go to your second main phase (to get that precious Frontier Siege mana for example) on the turn you want to win, losing the opportunity to attack.
This deck does has a lot of different lines, and it’s comically easy to screw up a fairly involved turn with sequencing errors or poor card casting choices. Don’t worry though, play it enough and you’ll get the hang of it.
Individual card choices explained
Below I’ll cover nearly every card in the deck, with some reasoning behind the inclusion of the card. Yes, there are some sub-optimal cards in this deck. No, I do not have infinite money to rectify this. However Frog Time is still very strong, and can only get more feral if you have the cash or cards to tweak it further.
Cards I consider must-includes for the engine to work are indicated with a “***” before the name.
(Sorted by Converted Mana Cost)
Fyndhorn Elves, Birds of Paradise, Deathrite Shaman: Our trusty one-drop ramp package, with the useful added utility that DRS brings to the table.
Guul Draz Assassin: This ugly bastard keeps low CMC commanders in check very nicely, and is a nice early-game mana sink. Late game just pitch it to Holistic Wisdom to get something better back, like Eternal Witness.
***Sylvan Safekeeper: Functioning as both a land sacrifice outlet (and thus a draw engine) and protection for our Frog and Saviour, Spider-riding Legolas is key to protecting Gitrog when you’re trying to do dirty, dirty things.
Wall of Roots: It may be my nostalgia kicking in, but I have a real soft spot for this Mirage-era mana producer. Great as an early blocker, and can be thrown under the bus for mana when required.
Lotus Cobra: Lotus Cobra has singlehandedly resulted in some highly bullshit turns in this deck. And with Crucible of Worlds out, and multiple land drops per turn, the Cobra can work wonderful magic.
***Noose Constrictor & Olivia’s Dragoon: These guys are not to be played until you’re well and truly going off. They allow you to discard all the surplus lands you’ve drawn, converting them into new draws. Absolutely a key part of the engine.
Tireless Tracker: Tracker is good in pretty much every green deck, but she works double-duty in Frog Time by making Altar of the Brood trigger double for every landfall trigger.
Azusa, Lost but Seeking: Just as good in the late game as she is early, Azusa is a key part of the ramp plan, and turns land tutors like Seek the Horizon and Realms Uncharted into real value. (Additional lands per turn count: 3, after Gitrog)
***Eternal Witness: It’s EDH, you’re playing green — of course you’re playing Eternal Witness. Gotta get that Splendid Rec. back any way you can.
Oracle of Mul Daya: See above about playing green etc. (Additional lands per turn count: 4)
Acidic Slime: One of my favourite, versatile creatures. A great deterrent blocker and removal all in one. Use it to nuke one of your own lands in a pinch, to draw a card with Gitrog.
***Ob Nixilis, the Fallen: One of the strongest win conditions in the deck, O.G. ObNix gets very big, very quickly, and drains your opponents just as fast.
***Titania, Protector of Argoth: While Titania’s main reason for being in the deck is as an army creating win condition, she can also grab key non-basic lands such as Boseiju from the graveyard. With any of the land sacrifice outlets on board, she can create an instant speed army if required.
Ulvenwald Hydra: Part of the “fair” gameplan, this Hydra is a very solid body with reach, with a land tutor attached.
***Rampaging Baloths & Avenger of Zendikar: Key win conditions and army engines.
World Breaker: I currently consider World Breaker to be a “flex-slot”, and would swap him out if I were looking to test another card. He’s a good choice to discard to your own Death Cloud though, as you can get him back later by sacrificing a land, which is always a good thing in this deck.
Emrakul, the Promised End: Because killing Necropotence players with their own draw engine is just so much fun.
***Zuran Orb: This zero cost artifact is one of many land sacrifice outlets which lets us draw at instant speed when Gitrog is on board, with the upside of gaining two life.
Sol Ring: Because EDH is a 98 card format, plus your Commander and Sol Ring.
***Altar of the Brood: A very important win condition, to get around any opponents who you wouldn’t be able to kill in combat.
Amulet of Vigor: Enabler of shenanigans, and a teensy bit “win-more”. Makes all your lands untap after a Splendid Reclamation, and makes ramp cards like Khalni Heart Expedition just that little bit better.
Crucible of Worlds: Crucible isn’t really required to win, but it sure does make life easier. Being able to threaten opponents with multiple Strip Mines every turn is also very useful, and it also helps you recover if you’ve had to cast an early Death Cloud.
Exploration: Nice early ramp, or assistance later in the game. (Additional lands per turn count: 5)
***Concordant Crossroads: Absolutely required, this enables us to attack with our massive army on the turn we generate it. Be aware though, this is a global enchantment, and also gives your opponents creatures haste, so casting it early is not a great idea. This will often be the very last card you cast in the game.
***Squandered Resources: Frog Time almost wouldn’t be possible without this card. This is the key to the entire engine, and it’s enormously difficult to win on the spot without it. It’s still possible using Amulet of Vigor and any of the free land sacrifice outlets, but it gets a little flaky.
Khalni Heart Expedition: Great early ramp, and is very easy to activate.
Gaea’s Touch: Good for an additional land drop, and you can cash it in later for double-green mana. Just the right amount of flexibility in a two drop slot. (Additional lands per turn count: 6)
Dark Heart of the Wood: The crappier version of Zuran Orb, but it’s a free land sac outlet, so I’ll take it!
***Holistic Wisdom: Is this the best recursion card in EDH? Maybe not, but it sure is in this deck. By the time you need to use it, you’ve got a hand of 15+ cards and can get back just about anything from your graveyard.
Frontier Siege: Naming Khans, you get GG on each of your main phases. That’s four green mana every turn, which is an excellent return on your four mana enchantment investment. I’m always happy to have this on the battlefield.
Cadaverous Bloom: This card is so good. Honestly, if you get this down, you’re having a great time. All those additional cards you draw that you don’t need turn in to mana, and as you’re going off you will be drawing a LOT of additional cards.